Types of Housing for Birds

There are two main choices for housing pet birds, cages and aviaries. Due to the huge range of bird sizes and their different needs you should consider all the options before you decide on which cage to purchase.

Which cage should I choose?

Cages can be used indoors for single birds or groups of birds. As a general rule you should buy a cage which is twice the wingspan in height and in length, however some birds are climbers and prefer a taller cage and a longer but shorter cage is better for birds which like to fly more often. Don’t feel limited in the size of the cage, the more space you can give your pet bird the better. When you add additional birds you should increase the minimum cage size by 50% for each bird you add.

What other things should I consider?

Cages have bars which are different thickness’ and different sized gaps between them. For birds such as parrots you need a thicker gauge of bar but the gap can be larger. For smaller birds like finches you can have a thinner bar but the gap must be smaller to stop the escaping. For any bird the gap between the bars should be small enough so that the bird cannot get its head through the gap. Cages should also have a removable grate at the bottom to allow faeces and discarded food to fall through so that it cannot contaminate the birds environment. It also makes cleaning the cage easier and improves hygiene. Covering the bottom tray with sand sheets or wood chips will absorb the mess made and improve hygiene further. Consider the size of the door when you choose your cage, they need to be big enough for you to access the bird easily and to replenish food and water bowls. Another important consideration is the size of the perches in the cage. Too small and they can damage the birds feet, too big and the bird will not be able to perch on them properly.

Where should I keep the cage?

The location of the cage should depend on the type of bird being kept. Shy birds or those kept in a group can be located in a quiet room of the house where they will not be disturbed too much. For single birds that like to interact and watch what is going on you can keep them in a busier rooms such as the lounge or family room. You should not locate a bird cage in a kitchen due to the fumes emitted during cooking food, and never in a conservatory due to the extremes of temperature that room is prone to having. When positioning the cage within a room the corner of the room is usually the best option. This is because the bird will feel more comfortable and secure and can retreat to the back of the cage if they feel uneasy. The cage should ideally be kept at eye level. This is because birds will feel more secure off the ground at a height they can see what is going on around them. Be sure not to position parrots and some other birds above eye level as this can lead to them trying to dominate the house and will lead to further bad behaviour.

Should I have an aviary?

Aviaries can be built indoors but are much more commonly built outdoors. They make an ideal environment for most types of bird as they provide much more living space than a cage. It allows birds to fly and behave in a much more natural way. The size will depend on which type of bird you wish to keep.

How do I build an aviary?

An aviary should ideally be build on a concrete base as this will make cleaning and maintaining it easier. You can build on grass or other bases but this will make cleaning more challenging. The base should be covered in sand or wood chips to absorb the faeces and keep the cage clean. The base should be level. You can buy wooden posts and wire mesh separately and construct you aviary, or a more simple option are pre-built aviary panels which simply need to be screwed together. The aviary should provide shelter from the winds and should be away from overhanging trees and busy roads. The size will depend on the available space and type of bird being kept. The wire mesh should be thick enough to keep the birds in securely so they cannot escape or get caught up. It also needs to be secure enough to keep predators out. Don’t forget an aviary full of birds can be an attractive target for foxes and other animals so it must be very secure. If you are keeping ground dwelling birds then you should bury the wire mesh up to 15cm into the ground, and the bottom 30cm should be covered to keep the birds securely. The door should be a double door so you can close the outer door behind you before opening the inner door. Be sure to treat the wooden structure with a bird friendly treatment to keep it in good condition and make it last longer

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